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December 10, 2004, 9:00 AM ET, Alert No. 1,035.
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Bush Signs Omnibus Appropriations Bill

12/8. President Bush signed HR 4818, the omnibus appropriations bill, on Wednesday, December 8, 2004. See, White House release.

This is a huge omnibus appropriations bill that provides appropriations for fiscal year 2005 for most of the technology related executive branch entities. It also includes many substantive law provisions, including the "L-1 Visa and H-1B Visa Reform Act", the "Satellite Home Viewer Extension and Reauthorization Act of 2004", and new and increased patent fees. See also, story titled "Congress Approves Omnibus Appropriations Bill" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 1,023, November 22, 2004.

The House and Senate both approved the conference report on HR 4818, on Saturday, November 20, 2004. However, that version included a provision that gave the Chairman of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, and their staff members, unrestricted access to federal tax returns. Members were not aware that this provision was in the bill. Hence, both the House and Senate amended the enrollment of HR 4818. This was accomplished by the approval of HConRes 528. The Senate promptly approved this. The House approved this on December 6 by a vote of 381-0. See, Roll Call No. 543. This accounts for the delay in the signing of the bill into law.

H1B Visas. HR 4818 includes the "L-1 Visa and H-1B Visa Reform Act". This provision was slipped into the bill without prior hearings or markups.

H-1B visas enable skilled high tech workers to work in the U.S. The annual quota is currently 65,000. This provision would allow an additional 20,000 visas to be issued to graduates of U.S. universities with a masters, or higher, degree. See, story titled "Appropriations Bill Includes H1B and L1 Visa Provisions" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 1,023, November 22, 2004.

On December 9, 2004 the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) office of Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a release [PDF] in which it stated that "The first 20,000 H-1B beneficiaries who have earned a master’s degree or higher from a U.S. institution of higher education are not subject to the annual congressionally mandated H-1B visa cap of 65,000. After those 20,000 slots are filled, USCIS is required to count those cases against the cap for the remainder of the fiscal year."

The USCIS continued that "For FY 2005, the new provision will allow USCIS to accept new petitions on behalf of up to 20,000 beneficiaries meeting these criteria. Petitions under this provision cannot be filed at this time, as the provision is not effective until March 8, 2005. USCIS will provide additional guidance on eligibility and process at a later date."

This USCIS release also details the increases in H1B visa related fees.

The USCIS issued a second release [PDF] regarding the L1 visa provisions of HR 4818. It states that "An L-1B nonimmigrant is an alien who has been employed overseas by a firm with an affiliated entity in the U.S., who comes to the U.S. to perform services for the international entity that involve specialized knowledge."

It further states that "The L-1 Reform Act amends previous legislation by addressing the issue of ``outsourcing.´´ L-1B temporary workers can no longer work primarily at a worksite other than their petitioning employer if the work will be controlled and supervised by a different employer or if the offsite arrangement is essentially to provide labor for hire, rather than service related to the specialized knowledge of the petitioning employer. This limitation will apply to all L-1B petitions filed with USCIS on or after June 6, 2005. This includes extensions and amendments involving individuals currently in L-1 status."

This USCIS release also reviews the other LI visa provisions in the bill, including new and increased L1 visa related fees.

USPTO Fees. HR 4818 provides appropriations totaling $1,540,000,000 for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for FY 2005. The Congress has not approved HR 1561, the "United States Patent and Trademark Fee Modernization Act of 2003", which is also known simply as the USPTO fee bill. The House passed this bill on March 2, 2004. See, story titled "House Passes USPTO Fee Bill", also published in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 849, March 4, 2004. The Senate did not pass it.

HR 4818 contains the fee increases of HR 1561. However, the increases are only applicable for FY 2005 and 2006. HR 4818 also contains the fee bill's language regarding outsourcing patent searches to U.S. companies. However, the fee bill's language regarding ending fee diversion is not in the appropriations bill. See, story titled "Appropriations Bill Provides $1.54 Billion for USPTO, Temporary Fee Increases, But No End to Diversion" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 1,023, November 22, 2004.

The USPTO released a notice on December 8, 2004, regarding the bill's provisions regarding patent fees. It states, in part, that HR 4818 "revises certain patent application and maintenance fees; provides separate fees for a basic filing fee, a search fee, and an examination fee; and requires an additional fee for any patent application whose specification and drawings exceed 100 sheets of paper (application size fee). The new patent fees are now effective and will remain in effect during the remainder of fiscal year 2005 and during fiscal year 2006. The patent maintenance fee changes apply to any maintenance fee payment made on or after December 8, 2004, regardless of the filing or issue date of the patent for which the fee is submitted. The revised maintenance fees took effect on December 8, 2004. Thus, any maintenance fee paid at any time on (or after) December 8, 2004 is subject to the revised maintenance fee amounts set forth in the Consolidated Appropriations Act."

The Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO) issued a release in which it states that "Inventors, creators, and businesses have been urging Congress to better fund the United States Patent Office (USPTO). They have even supported raising the fees they pay on patent applications, if Congress would promise not to divert those funds to unrelated government programs."

"The lame duck session got the increase in fees part right; they raised fees by 15 to 25 percent", wrote the IPO. "But they did nothing to stop the diversion of funds. In fact, while they were raising the fees that inventors have to pay for their patents, Congress diverted yet another $30 million of inventors’ money from the USPTO for other purposes. Diversion of fees away from the USPTO since 1992 has totaled about three-quarters of a billion dollars."

SHVERA. HR 4818 includes a revised version of the "Satellite Home Viewer Extension and Reauthorization Act of 2004", which is also known as the "W. J. (Billy) Tauzin Satellite Television Act of 2004". See, story titled "Appropriations Bill Includes SHVERA" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 1,025, November 24, 2004.

Baucus Criticizes Administration Failure to Negotiate Free Trade Agreements in Asia

12/8. Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, gave a speech [PDF] to the Institute of International Economics in which he criticized the Bush administration's failure to more actively pursue free trade agreements (FTAs) with Asian nations.

He said that most of the Bush administration's negotiation of trade agreements is with countries outside of Asia, and it appears "content to leave Asia to the Asians". He said that this is a "mistake".

Sen. Max BaucusBaucus (at right) said that "This Administration's trade policy is dictated largely by its foreign policy, not by economics. And as a result, Asian countries are increasingly looking to China as their primary economic partner, just as they once looked to America."

The U.S. did recently enter into a FTA with Singapore. It has also negotiated FTA's with many small economies with which the U.S. trades little, including Jordan, Israel, Morocco, Bahrain, and Panama. Sen. Baucus made the point that "During its first term, the Administration started free trade talks with twenty countries around the globe. But only one of those is with an Asian nation -- Thailand." In contrast, said Baucus, Asian nations are actively pursuing trade agreements with each other.

See, the U.S. Trade Representative's (USTR) web section on bilateral trade agreements.

Baucus suggested that instead, the U.S. "should consider negotiating more free trade agreements in Asia. In particular, we should consider negotiating agreements with Malaysia, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan."

Sen. Baucus wants a U.S. Japan FTA. "Japan, of course, is the world’s second largest economy, and by far the largest in Asia. An FTA with the United States could help pull Japan -- once and for all -- out of its economic doldrums. It could also provide just the political impetus Prime Minister Koizumi needs to push through his long-planned -- and long-stalled -- economic reforms. When I visited Japan earlier this year and mentioned the possibility of a U.S.-Japan FTA, Japanese businesspeople were excited about the prospect."

Sen. Baucus also advocated FTAs with Malaysia ("the easiest of these to negotiate"), Korea ("a huge market for U.S. products, many of which now face high hurdles"), and Taiwan. He said that "Taiwan recently made great strides in improving protections for intellectual property. That prompted the United States to restart long delayed talks on a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement."

He conceded that a FTA with Japan "would certainly be an ambitious and difficult agreement." But, he added, "We should negotiate these agreements not because it would be easy, but because it would be hard. And because it would focus our attention and efforts where the greatest benefits lie -- Asia."

Baucus also argued that "We should also consider further sectoral initiatives like the Information Technology Agreement", and that "we should devote more resources to enforcing our rights in Asia more aggressively. Many Asian countries have terrible records protecting intellectual property, for instance. Each year, U.S. companies lose billions of dollars to piracy in Asia alone."

He concluded that "we should never forget what the conversation is really all about -- jobs and the health of the U.S. economy, now and in the future. Regional integration in Asia without the United States means U.S. farmers and companies will have to compete in Asia on unattractive terms with their Asian competitors, particularly those in China. That means fewer sales, fewer American jobs, and a slower U.S. economy."

Zoellick Discusses Tech, TPA and Trade Agreements

12/7. U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Zoellick spoke in Paris, France. He discussed, among other topics, extending trade promotion authority (TPA), building political support for free trade in the U.S. tech sector, and technology related provision in trade agreements. See, transcript.

Robert ZoellickZoellick (at right) said that "The intellectual property rules in the WTO system reflect the era that they were created, sort of late ‘80s, early ‘90s. Just think what has happened in the world of digital technology since then. Those international rules have no protection for if you download software, music, videos, because it wasn’t a hard copy. So, in all our bilateral agreements, we create what is called a “temporary copyright” as you download something into your hard drive because otherwise, frankly, you would never have to have any paper form and you could distribute it out to all the networks. So people in the publishing industry should have a particularly keen interest in this."

He also explained trade promotion authority, its legislative history, and prospects for extension. He said that "one of our greatest challenges under the U.S. Constitution is that Congress has the authority over trade. That’s one reason why President Bush made such a strong effort in 2001-02 to get the basic negotiating authority, which is the foundation for all the agreements we do, whether WTO or Free Trade Agreements, because absent that trade promotion authority Congress could amend agreements. And who is going to do a deal with you if, basically, Congress can take it apart?"

He explained that "trade promotion authority allows the President to bring back an agreement for an up or down vote. As most people know, in one of the votes in that process, we won by one vote. So, yes, it’s always difficult, in that authorizing legislation is one of the toughest because, frankly, you have all the people, who are against trade with all the scare stories, and the people who are for trade don't really have a particular agreement to argue for.  But, frankly, we are very proud of the fact that we got that done because it had lapsed for eight years under our predecessors."

The key House vote on December 6, 2001 was 215-214. See, Roll Call No. 481. See, story titled "House Passes Trade Promotion Authority Bill" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 323, December 7, 2001.

Zoellick continued that "heading into 2005 ... trade promotion authority has to be extended another two years. So, the President has to request that authority by the end of March. I have no doubt that he will do so, but there is an unusual procedure. He gets the authority for another two years unless either house of Congress blocks it, OK?  That will be, no doubt, a challenge, but one that I believe that we will succeed in."

Zoellick also discussed building political support for trade promotion authority. He recollected that "The two Congresswomen from Silicon Valley did not vote for trade promotion authority. Now, somebody has to explain to me the economic logic of that. Well, the political logic was that the high-tech community wasn’t organized in its own interest. So, we have tried to work not only with the agriculture community and the manufacturing community but with the retailers, with the high-tech community, with the entertainment industry.  Jack Valenti and I put together a coalition to try and get entertainment to be supportive."

Not only did Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) vote no, other Silicon Valley area Democrats also voted no, including Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA) and Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-CA). Moreover, Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA), a Congressman from Microsoft, also voted no. The vote broke down largely along party lines. However, a few tech Democrats crossed over to vote for the bill. Rep. James Moran from northern Virginia was one of its most vocal supporters. Rep. Bill Etheridge from the Research Triangle in North Carolina also voted for the bill. See, story titled "Technology, IPR and TPA" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 323, December 7, 2001.

DC Circuit Rules in EMR v. FCC

12/7. The U.S. Court of Appeals (DCCir) issued its opinion [8 pages in PDF] in EMR Network v. FCC, a case regarding environmental impacts of FCC decisions.

EMR Network filed a petition asking the FCC to initiate an inquiry on the need to revise its regulations to address nonthermal effects of radio frequency (RF) radiation. The FCC's Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) rejected EMR’s initial petition; EMR submitted further materials; and, the FCC issued an order rejecting EMR's petition.

EMR then filed the present petition for review, arguing that the FCC violated § 102 of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which is codified at 42 U.S.C. § 4332.

The Court of Appeals rejected the petition for review. It reviewed the actions of the FCC, the language of the NEPA, and other court cases construing the NEPA, and concluded that the FCC did not violated the NEPA.

This case is EMR Network v. FCC and USA, No. 03-1336, a petition for review of a final order of the FCC. Judge Williams wrote the opinion of the Court, in which Judges Edwards and Garland joined.

SEC Official Suggests Role for Web and E-Mail in Mutual Fund Disclosure Regime

12/6. Paul Roye, Director of the Securities and Exchange Commission's (SEC) Division of Investment Management, gave a speech in Washington DC titled "Mutual Fund Regulation: What Happens Next".

He discussed, among other topics, the SEC's review of the mutual fund disclosure regime. He said that he believes that this "will be the Commission's upcoming mutual fund regulatory agenda".

He said that as new new mutual fund disclosures have been imposed, it can lead to "information overload". He suggested utilizing new communications technologies, including web site based disclosures.

He said that "It has been over six years since the Commission adopted its mutual fund prospectus simplification reforms. In the intervening years, prospectuses have started to bulk up again-containing information that is no doubt useful, but perhaps in a format and in a level of detail that may be overwhelming for many mutual fund investors. During the same period, we have witnessed the continued acceptance of the Internet, e mail and other disclosure mediums from which to obtain information, including investment information."

He added that "I believe that there is a role for ``layered´´ disclosure in the mutual fund regime. By layered, I mean getting critical, key information into the hands of investors when they are making an investment decision or reviewing a fund investment, while providing investors-and their advisors and the financial press-access to more detailed information that can flesh out some of the details for those investors who have particular areas of interest and concern."

Congress Approves Telecom Bill

12/9. The Senate approved HR 5419, by unanimous consent, on December 8, 2004. The House approved this bill on November 20, 2004. It is ready for signature by the President.

This is a composite bill that includes the "Commercial Spectrum Enhancement Act" (CSEA), the "Universal Service Antideficiency Temporary Suspension Act", and the "Ensuring Needed Help Arrives Near Callers Employing 911 Act of 2004" or "ENHANCE Act".

See also, story titled "House Approves Bill that Includes the Commercial Spectrum Enhancement Act" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 1,025, November 24, 2004; and story titled "Powell Urges Senate to Approve Telecom Bill" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 1,032, December 7, 2004.

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Michael Powell stated in a release on December 9 that "House and Senate leaders worked hard to get this done, and consumers will benefit from their efforts. The legislation brings needed changes that will promote homeland security and increase wireless broadband opportunities. An accounting rule fix also ensures that the e-rate program for schools and libraries remains strong. I look forward to working with the NTIA and administration to implement this vital legislation and advance E911, promote wireless broadband, and secure universal service for America's schools and libraries."

Commercial Spectrum Enhancement Act. Title II of HR 5419 is the CSEA. It changes the process for reallocating spectrum from federal users to commercial users, such as wireless broadband services. The bill creates a Spectrum Relocation Fund, funded by auction proceeds, to compensate federal agencies for the cost of relocating. The bill replaces the current role of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees.

Michael Gallagher, head of the Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), stated in a release on December 9 that "Last night's vote will accelerate the arrival of the broadband digital wireless age in the U.S."

Michael GallagherGallagher (at right) continued that "Streamlining the relocation process is a significant step in meeting President Bush's call to remove regulatory roadblocks to rapid deployment of broadband. The bill will speed much-needed consumer access to spectrum -- rocket fuel for economic growth. With 45 percent more wireless spectrum, mobile wireless carriers can accelerate their transition to becoming broadband carriers. Congressional leaders who maintained their intensity through passage of this bill, and those industry leaders who worked well into the night, deserve credit for legislation that will boost both our national and our economic security."

Universal Service Antideficiency Temporary Suspension Act. Title III of HR 5419 provides that funds received as universal service contributions under 47 U.S.C. § 254, and the universal service support programs established thereunder, are not subject to the "Antideficiency Act".

BellSouth's Mary Henze commented on the e-rate program, and universal service generally. She said that "the new Congress will need to take a hard look at all of the funding and distribution problems that changes in the marketplace have brought to bear on the federal goal of telephone service that is available and affordable for all Americans. The current Universal Service system is in great peril. The schools and libraries issue is just the tip of the iceberg."

Walter McCormick, P/CEO of the U.S. Telecom Association (USTA), stated in a release that "The Senate passed critical legislation last night to ensure continued service for educational programs in schools and libraries across the nation and to avoid an unnecessary increase in consumer phone rates. We appreciate the determined efforts of Senators Snowe and Rockefeller to get this important legislation through in the final hours of this session of Congress. This legislation highlights the many challenges facing the nation’s universal service system and the entire telecom industry. We look forward to working with Congress to address and resolve these critical issues early next year."

Washington Tech Calendar
New items are highlighted in red.
Friday, December 10

9:30 AM. The U.S. Court of Appeals (DCCir) will hear oral argument in Savannah College of Art and Design v. FCC, No. 04-1024. Judges Ginsburg, Garland and Williams will preside. Location: Prettyman Courthouse, 333 Constitution Ave., NW.

10:00 AM. The U.S. Court of Appeals (FedCir), Panel I, will hear oral argument in Collegenet v. Applyyourself (No. 04-1202). See, FedCir calendar. Location: Courtroom 402, 717 Madison Place, NW.

10:00 AM. The U.S. Court of Appeals (FedCir), Panel J, will hear oral argument in Rasmusson v. SmithKline Beecham (No. 04-1191) and Watson Industries v. Murata Electronics (No. 04-1235). See, FedCir calendar. Location: Courtroom 203, 717 Madison Place, NW.

12:00 NOON - 2:00 PM. The Progress and Freedom Foundation (PFF) will host a panel discussion titled "Grokster and the Supreme Court: The Case For and Against Consideration". The speakers will include Mitch Glazier (Recording Industry Association of America), Alan Davidson (Center for Democracy and Technology), Jonathan Band (Morrison & Foerster), James DeLong (PFF), and Solveig Singleton (PFF). See, notice and online registration page. The PFF filed an amicus curiae brief [12 pages in PDF] on November 8. Press contact: Patrick Ross at 202 289-8928 or Lunch will be served. Location: Room B369, Rayburn Building, Capitol Hill.

CANCELLED. 2:00 - 3:00 PM. The North American Numbering Council (NANC) will hold a meeting by conference call. See, notice of cancellation [PDF].

Monday, December 13

The Supreme Court will begin a recess that will last through Monday, January 10, 2005. See, Order List [9 pages in PDF] at page 9.

Tuesday, December 14

8:30 AM - 4:00 PM. The CTIA will host a one day seminar on the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Nationwide Programmatic Agreement [PDF] and the FCC/USET Tribal Best Practices Agreement. These pertain to the FCC's historic preservation review process. The price to attend is $200 for CTIA members and $300 for non-members. The deadline to register is December 10. See, notice. Location: CTIA, 1400 16th Street, NW.

TIME CHANGE. 10:00 AM - 1:30 PM. The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) will host a program titled "The Proper Direction for Telecommunications Reform Legislation". The speakers will include Harold Furchtgott-Roth (former FCC Commissioner), Robert Crandall (Brookings), Greg Sidak (AEI), Robert Hahn (AEI Brookings Joint Center) and John Mayo (Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business). Duane Ackerman, Chairman of BellSouth, will give the luncheon address, optimistically titled the "The Telecommunications Act of 2005". See, notice and registration page. Press contact: Veronique Rodman at 202 862-4871 or Location: AEI, 12th floor, 1150 17th St., NW.

12:00 NOON. The Americans for a Secure Internet (ASI) will host a luncheon and panel discussion titled "Why Santa Shops Online". The speakers will be Steve DelBianco (NetChoice), Wayne Crews (Competitive Enterprise Institute), Raynor Dahlquist (VeriSign), and Jonathan Zuck (Association for Competitive Technology). Register by December 13. See, registration page. For more information, contact Abigail Phillips at 202 331-2130 ext. 107. Location: Phoenix Park Hotel, 520 North Capitol Street, NW.

6:00 - 8:15 PM. The DC Bar Association will host a continuing legal education (CLE) program titled "2004 Intellectual Property Law Year in Review Series: Part 2 -- Copyright, Trademark and Internet". The speakers will be Brian Banner (Banner & Witcoff), Beckwith Burr (Wilmer Cutler & Pickering), and and Terence Ross (Gibson Dunn & Crutcher). See, notice. Prices vary from $70 to $115. For more information, call 202 626-3488. Location: D.C. Bar Conference Center, B-1 Level, 1250 H St., NW.

Deadline to submit reply comments to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regarding the high cost universal support mechanisms for rural carriers and the appropriate rural mechanism to succeed the five year plan adopted in the Rural Task Force Order. See, notice in the Federal Register, September 3, 2004, Vol. 69, No. 171, at Pages 53917 - 53923.

Wednesday, December 15

9:30 AM. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will hold a meeting. The event will be webcast. Location: FCC, 445 12th Street, SW, Room TW-C05 (Commission Meeting Room).

Day one of a two day workshop hosted by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) titled "Peer to Peer File-Sharing Technology: Consumer Protection and Competition Issues". November 15 is the deadline to submit comments and requests to participate. See, FTC release and notice [13 pages in PDF] to be published in the Federal Register. Location: FTC Satellite Building, 601 New Jersey Ave., NW.

2:00 - 4:00 PM. The WRC-07 Advisory Committee's Informal Working Group 3: IMT-2000 and 2.5 GHz Sharing Issues will meet. See, FCC notice [PDF]. Location: FCC, 445 12th Street, SW, Room 7-B516 (7th Floor South Conference Room).

6:00 - 8:00 PM. The Federal Communications Bar Association (FCBA) will host a continuing legal education (CLE) seminar titled "New Frontiers in Digital Video: Recent Developments in Copyright Law and The FCC’s Role in Content Protection". The speakers will be Fritz Attaway (Motion Picture Association of America), Sarah Deutsch (Verizon Communications), Gigi Sohn (Public Knowledge) and James Burger (Dow Lohnes & Albertson), and Rick Chessen (FCC). To register, contact Ann Henson or Heidi Kurtz at 202-293-4000. Prices range from $50 to $125. Location: Dow Lohnes & Albertson, 8th Floor, 1200 New Hampshire Ave., NW.

Thursday, December 16

11:00 AM. The Federal Communications Bar Association's (FCBA) Legislation Committee will host an event. The speaker will be Gregg Rothschild (Democratic Counsel, House Commerce Committee). He will speak on legislative issues. RSVP to Helene Marshall at Location: Wiley Rein & Fielding, 1776 K St., NW.

12:00 NOON - 1:30 PM. The DC Bar Association's Intellectual Property Law Section and Legislative Committee will host a program titled "Update On Justice Department Enforcement Of Intellectual Property Laws". The speakers will be Daniel Bryant (Assistant Attorney General in charge of the DOJ's Office of Legal Policy, and Vice-Chair of the DOJ's Intellectual Property Task Force) and Barbara Berschler. See, notice. Prices vary from $15 to $30. For more information, call 202 626-3463. Location: D.C. Bar Conference Center, B-1 Level, 1250 H St., NW.

1:30 - 4:30 PM. The Executive Office of the President's (OEP) Office of Science and Technology Policy's (OSTP) National Science and Technology Council's (NSTC) Committee on Technology, Committee on Homeland and National Security's Infrastructure Subcommittee will hold a meeting that is closed to the public. For more information, contact John Hoyt at or 202 772-9959. Location: White House Conference Center (Truman Room).

Day two of a two day workshop hosted by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) titled "Peer to Peer File-Sharing Technology: Consumer Protection and Competition Issues". See, FTC release and notice [13 pages in PDF] to be published in the Federal Register. Location: FTC Satellite Building, 601 New Jersey Ave., NW.

Friday, December 17

12:00 NOON. Deadline to submit comments to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) regarding various trade related telecommunications issues. The USTR seeks comments on "Whether any WTO member is acting in a manner that is inconsistent with its commitments under the WTO Basic Telecommunications Agreement or with other WTO obligations", "Whether Canada or Mexico has failed to comply with their telecommunications commitments or obligations under NAFTA", "Whether Chile or Singapore or any other FTA partner with an Agreement that comes into force on or before January 1, 2005 has failed to comply with their telecommunications commitments or obligations under the respective FTAs", "Whether other countries have failed to comply with their commitments under additional telecommunications agreements", and "Whether there remain outstanding issues from previous Section 1377 reviews". See, notice in the Federal Register, Vol. 69, No. 226, Wednesday, November 24, 2004, at Page 68439.

People and Appointments

12/9. Judge Charles Pickering, Sr. announced his retirement. President Bush nominated him in 2001 to be a Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit. Bush gave him a recess appointment to the 5th Circuit in January 2004. See, story titled "Bush Gives Judge Pickering a Recess Appointment" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 818, January 19, 2004. Senate Democrats hold enough votes to filibuster, but not enough to defeat him on a straight majority vote.

12/9. The U.S. District Court (DRI), Judge Ernest Torres presiding, sentenced Jim Taricani on Thursday, December 9, 2004 to six months of home detention for criminal contempt of court in connection with his refusal to inform the government of the identify a confidential source. For background on this matter, see Memorandum and Order [34 pages in PDF] of October 2, 2003. This case is D.C. Misc. No. 01-47-T. On November 19, 2004, Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) introduced S 3020, the "Free Speech Protection Act of 2004", a bill to establish protections against compelled disclosure of sources, and news or information, by persons providing services for news media.

12/9. Karen Wheeless was named Associate Managing Director for Performance Evaluation and Records Management (PERM) at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The FCC stated in a release [PDF] that she will handle the FCC's "annual regulatory fee assessment process, planning and performance reporting required by the Government Performance and Results Act, the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act programs, and compliance with government-wide paperwork, data quality, and records management legislation."

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